Best Home Decorating Blogs

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best home decorating blogs - Apartment Therapy:

Apartment Therapy: The Eight-Step Home Cure

Apartment Therapy: The Eight-Step Home Cure

From not enough space and too many things to not knowing what color to paint the living room walls, many of us struggle with our homes. Now Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, frequent makeover expert on HGTV’s Mission: Organization and Small Spaces, Big Style, shares the do-it-yourself strategies that have enabled his clients and fans to transform their apartments into well-organized, beautiful places that suit their style and budget.

Week by week, Apartment Therapy will guide you to treat common problems, eliminate clutter, and revamp even the tiniest space. Here is an eight-step process that includes:

A therapeutic questionnaire to help you get in touch with your personal taste and diagnose your home’s physical, emotional, and energy flow issues

A prescription with recommendations for each room based on your needs and lifestyle–including tips on how to use color, lighting, and accessories

A treatment plan, including regular maintenance schedules to ensure the ongoing health of your space

Illustrations of floor plans and decorative examples that allow you to visualize concepts before you begin

With surprising ease and without elaborate professional help, Apartment Therapy will help you clear a path through disorder and indecision–to reveal a home you’ll love.

80% (9)

2008 - 09 - 06 - Ray's Hell Burger

2008 - 09 - 06 - Ray's Hell Burger

There's an ugly little strip mall in Rosslyn that has been home to some of the greatest restaurants in the DC area over the years.

The original Pho 75, one of the first Vietnamese beef soup restaurants in the country, opened here at least ten years ago and is now a local DC area chain (strangely more popular with Hispanic immigrants now than Vietnamese) and is still going strong. There was also an elegant Afghan restaurant that had superb food and even better atmosphere and service (now gone, called maybe something like "Afghan Cafe"?), a tremendous Cambodian restaurant decorated with really cool little straw umbrellas hanging down from the ceiling (still really miss that one and don't know any other Cambodian restaurants in the area). And one of our very favorite restaurants, which is blessedly ignored by foodies and critics, Village Bistro, is still turning out fantastic French-ish bistro food (best fried oysters this side of New Orleans, chicken livers to cry over, etc.). The very short-lived Le Poulet, a fantastic and fantastically affordable Lebanese restaurant that lasted only a few months despite heavy patronage by the stafs of many Middle Eastern embassies. And many people love Guajillo, a Mexican/yuppie place there (although I'm not a huge fan, it consistently makes the Washingtonian top 100 "Cheap Eats" list).

But the trendsetter has been Ray's the Steaks, which opened in this strip mall maybe three or four years ago. It serves superb aged steaks for really reasonable prices. Foodies have flocked to it like Canadian geese to a putting green. We've eaten here once and I can confirm that it's superb food at a not-outrageous price. BUT ... BUT ... BUT ... they don't exactly take reservations and the servers aren't exactly warm and friendly and the lines are often two or three hours to get in and it's THE LOUDEST PLACE I'VE EVER EATEN AT AND I'VE HAD A HOT DOG AT A DIRT TRACK CAR RACE IN MISSISSIPPI ON A HOT AUGUST NIGHT!

So, as I say, Ray's the Steaks is a mixed bag. And by all accounts, Ray, the owner is a quirky fellow -- he's opened another wildly popular restaurant in way upscale Bethesda, Maryland (Ray's the Classics) and if you haunt foodie blogs, he appears to sometimes pick fights with people, or at least not to back down from them. On the other hand, he's opening a restaurant in a DC ward that has NO other non-chain restaurants and he is very committed to excellent food at more than fair prices.

So it was big news when Ray opened "Ray's Hell Burgers" in that same strip mall along with "Ray's the Steaks," the Village Bistro, Pho 75's original location, and the ghosts of excellent restaurants from dinners past. The initial reviews were amazingly good (best burger in the DC area etc. etc.), the menu was interesting (no sides, just gratis corn on the cob and watermelon slices, but a burger with foie gras was also available), and the "introductory" prices were stunningly low ($6.95 for a 10 ounce burger with sides). The beef used includes scraps from the aged beef at Ray's the Steaks. Sounded just wonderful.

One big problem, especially for my wife Toni, who actually cares about the eating out "experience" and not just how good the food is, was that by all accounts to get a table in this no-reservations place required a wait of at least an hour and often much longer. That wasn't going to work for us.

Fortunately, the Lord sent us Tropical Storm Hannah this weekend with six inches of drenching rains and high winds. My brainstorm -- "Hey, Toni! I bet even those annoying DC foodies won't venture out to Virginia in this kind of miserable weather. Let's go to Ray's Hell Burgers and beat the lines."

The strategy worked, walked straight in and ordered and even got a table to sit at. I thought my burger (pictured here) was just really really good. Pure pleasure in every bite.

But I'm a cheap date, easily impressed by good food. Toni on the other hand, still cares about frills like comfort and atmosphere and she was strangely silent as she wolfed her burger down. I braced myself for a dismissive, "Well, that was good but you can do better on the backyard grill."

Instead, after a long long silence: "That was the best hamburger I have ever had in my entire life."

Happy Bench Monday - TAGGED! 169.365

Happy Bench Monday - TAGGED! 169.365

I've been tagged a couple of times in the last few weeks, so I thought I would take the opportunity with this shot to give you ten random things you might or might not know about me.

1. I just starting making pictures about one year ago, to the week. I bought a Canon G10 camera for a road trip we had planned throughout Vermont and New Hampshire, and I wanted a camera I could take good pictures for a blog I was trying out. I kinda got addicted, and it's turned into the obsession you see now. Yes, it drives Wife crazy.

2. The Wife and I LOVE to travel. Any opportunity we get we try to make an adventure of it. Whether that be checking out the tourist spots right in our back yard of Orange County, CA, or flying (or at least "attempting" to on this last trip) half way across the world to see Europe, we will go just about anywhere, anytime.

3. I was born in Italy, in a little town called Schio (pronounced Ski-oh). It's at the foot of the Little Dolomite mountains and about a 45 minute car ride to Venice. It is one of the most beautiful spots in the world, and to me it will always be "home." The first question everyone asks is "do you speak Italian?" The answer is yes, I speak fluently, but my writing ability sucks. And, yes, my dad still lives there.

4. My parents both own small businesses, just half way across the world from each other. My mom lives and owns a beauty salon in Indian Wells, CA and my dad owns a travel business in Schio, Italy. Yes, they are still married, but have had to live apart for much of each year. It used to be easier because the desert was very seasonal. My mom could practically close the shop down for 6 months and go to Italy and not really lose any business...and my dad was always bringing groups of people to the states, so I would not have to go too long without seeing him. Unfortunately, life creeps in and now I work at a job that doesn't let me leave for long stretches, but we manage how we can.

5. I am a Drum Corps International World Champion, and marched 3 years with the Santa Clara Vanguard ('97, '98, '99). What does that mean? Basically, the easiest way to describe Drum Corps is "Marching band on steroids." It's essentially the highest level of marching performance, and I had the great privilege and honor to be a part of one of the most historic and decorated groups in DCI. Oh yea, and I was the poster boy for DCI in 1998. Ask me about that one sometime...hahaha!

6. In additional to playing Soprano Bugle (trumpet now) in the drum corps, I performed in my high school winterguard. Yes, I was a purple butterfly and I was on the rifle line. The best way to describe winterguard, for those who don't know, is like this: take the flags, rifles, and sabers from the marching band, put them in a gym, and create a show, performed to recorded music. Life was good as one of the only four straight guys in a sea of (mostly) beautiful girls.

8. I met my wife while in college at Pepperdine University. We met in Summer School, and no, it was not love at first sight. But, as things go, we started to hang out throughout the summer and we became best friends and still are to this day. We were engaged almost instantly, but ended up marrying 3 years (almost to the day) later.

9. I got married on a Tuesday night. We decided after our long engagement that we just wanted to go ahead and get married. We were both in graduate school at the time, and did not want to plan a huge party that would take 6 months to organize. So, we planed it in 5 weeks, had it at a fabulous location in Laguna Beach, spent about 1/3 as much as we would have on a weekend, and had a wonderful time...on a Tuesday!

10. This one is probably the most important. I am a Christian. I try my hardest to live a life that Jesus Christ would want me to live, even though I fall short 99% of the time. It's important to me to know that no matter how bad I've been, or how bad life gets, I have a savior that will forgive, and gives me purpose in life. And, if you follow in the footsteps of the perfect person, good stuff is bound to rub off.

Strobist: 580EXII at full blast, through white umbrella, camera right.

best home decorating blogs

best home decorating blogs

Halloween Crafts: Eerily Elegant Decor

Within these colourful pages, readers will find fifty beautiful, vintage looking Halloween crafts and party recipes and learn how to use them to create a special holiday. Detailed, step-by-step instructions allow all crafters to create these unique projects, including "Instant Ancestors" (faux gravestones) and a scarecrow wreath -- many could even become family heirlooms. Most projects are quick and simple, requiring not much more than a glue gun, sewing and painting. More than 100 beautiful photos show the finished craft as well as guide the reader throughout the creation process. Features: 50 upscale, beautiful, vintage looking Halloween crafts and party recipes; Stunning photos and detailed illustrations; Anecdotes about Halloween past and present.

As a regular on TV's Bewitched, Kasey Rogers (Louise Tate) has the right pedigree to produce Halloween Crafts: Eerily Elegant Decor. She and coauthor Mark Wood have dreamed up some pretty innovative approaches to such timeworn Halloween delights as pumpkin carving, table decorating, and party giving. Rather than limit carving to traditional orange pumpkins, they offer devilish red imps made of bumpy gourds and green glow-stick eyes, or a jaunty goblin king carved of green hubbard squash. A decrepit old butler figure presides over the "graveyard tea," and the "harvest of skulls" centerpiece features a tower of grinning plastic skulls topped with drippy black (electric) candles. A quartet of simple recipes makes up the "Boo-fey," along with two versions of punch contributed by another Bewitched alumnus, Bernard Fox (Dr. Bombay). The home-snapshot quality of the photographs is the one weak spot in this otherwise commendable book. Still, enough details are generally visible to help clarify the occasionally confusing directions, and the step-by-steps are mostly adequately explained. A source list provides contact information for the harder-to-find items. --Amy Handy

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